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View from India: Aero India’s runway to a billion opportunities

Aero India 2021, the country’s premier aerospace and defence exhibition, is poised for take off. The event, 3-5 February, is being held in the Yelahanka Air Base in Bangalore. Due to Covid restrictions, the show is a combination of physical and virtual displays and will be the world’s first hybrid aerospace show

Hailed as the Runway to a Billion Opportunities, the 13th edition of the international event has packaged a fair share of starry attractions. Countries will flex military muscle into space as fighter jets, metal birds and helicopters thunder the skies. Next-generation air combat capabilities, aerodynamically superior missiles, indigenous aircraft and sophisticated weaponry are among the highlights to watch out for in this year’s show.

Global aviation companies including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Dassault and Airbus, and defence companies such as Thales and BAE Systems are among the participants. Aircrafts of the Indian Air Force, Army, Navy, Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and the Coast Guard will showcase their prowess and technological self-reliance at the international show.

This year’s event has attracted an impressive number of participants despite the pandemic. Confirmed participants include 523 Indian exhibitors and 78 foreign exhibitors from 14 countries. "The @AeroIndiashow is scheduled from 3rd Feb till 5th Feb, 21 at Bengaluru. The event is unique in ways more than one and it is billed as the 'Runway to a Billion Opportunities'," the defence minister Rajnath Singh said in a tweet.

The defence minister said that the aero show will position the country as an investment, innovation, and defence manufacturing hub. As seen during the exhibition's curtain raiser on 2 February, the thrust this year will be on India’s defence capabilities. The second line of production of the light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas has been inaugurated by the defence minister at HAL.

The aero show is a platform for participants to exchange information while highlighting 'Make in India' products. These products are in-sync with the ‘Aatma-Nirbhar Bharat Mission’ (Self Reliant India) vision. The Defence Research and Development Organisation, which is responsible for the development of military technology, will exhibit its latest defence technologies and demonstrate various hi-tech systems. 

Aatmanirbhar Formation Flight is the offering from HAL, a public-sector undertaking. The Bangalore-headquartered company will showcase a range of products from the LCA trainer (LIFT Trainer), HTT-40 and IJT, to the Advanced Hawk Mk 132 and Civil Do-228, which will be a visual treat as they will fly in a special formation.

For the first time, the Uttar Pradesh administration has put up a defence corridor at the show. The Government of Karnataka is a co-host of the biennial air show and the event is expected to strengthen Karnataka’s position in the defence and aerospace sector.

The event will be a channel for defence-related economic investments. In all likelihood, around 200 MoUs (memorandum of understanding) will be signed at Aero India. The national aerospace ecosystem is expected to further consolidate with the event, as new aircraft designs and tools will get wings. The exhibition will also play host to the defence ministers of the Indian Ocean Region, a meeting which is expected to open up dialogues and collaborations will many surrounding nations.

The Aero India Show, which began in 1996, has grown into Asia’s largest defence and aerospace air show attended by international delegates, participants, investors and dignitaries.

Due to the pandemic, the flight display venue will host only 3,000 visitors a day and a Covid-negative RT-PCR test report is compulsory for all aerospace enthusiasts coming to the three-day show. New to this event is the virtual presence, which enables exhibitors to track and interact with business visitors through email, SMS, text chat or video chat.

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